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Mark Stone shoulders blame for Golden Knights’ slump on offense

Updated April 7, 2021 - 10:13 pm

Mark Stone fell on the sword for the Golden Knights’ recent offensive slump.

The captain, who hasn’t scored since March 22, was critical of his play after Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Blues at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

“At the end of the day, the guys who are getting paid to score goals have to score goals,” Stone said. “Especially our line, (Max Pacioretty) and I put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We have to find a way to win our team a hockey game. I don’t think we’ve really done enough over the last four or five games to get our team more wins.”

The Knights (25-11-2, 52 points) lost for the fourth time in their past five games and missed an opportunity to gain ground on first-place Colorado in the West Division standings.

St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington responded to the challenge from his coach with 50 saves after the Knights posted a season-high six goals Monday.

Nicolas Roy broke the shutout with 4:16 remaining, ending a personal 24-game scoring drought. Ryan Reaves picked up an assist for his 100th career NHL point.

“We had a great team effort on Monday,” Stone said, “but these are types of games where your best players have to find ways to score goals, and I take a majority of the responsibility for that.”

Center Chandler Stephenson returned from a three-game suspension, but the Knights played without Alec Martinez (undisclosed injury) and had to use five defensemen since they did not have enough salary cap space to call up a replacement.

The struggling power play was unable to score on three chances in the second period and finished 0-for-4 after a late six-on-four with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury pulled for an extra attacker.

The Knights haven’t converted on the power play since March 29 and are without a goal on their past 18 opportunities.

“We needed to find a power-play goal somewhere in there,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We needed one of our key guys with some of the quality looks they had to find a way to stick one in the net. That’s the only way you’re going to win on the road this time of year against a good team.”

Binnington made 21 stops in the second period on his way to winning for the first time since March 19. He turned away Stone and Keegan Kolesar late in the second and then withstood a third-period push from the Knights.

Fleury dropped his third straight decision. The Knights have scored nine goals in his past six starts and he’s gone 1-5.

As for Stone, he hasn’t scored in his past eight games. Pacioretty has gone six games without a goal.

“It was disappointing not to come out of the second down at least one,” Stone said. “We had clear looks and opportunities to score that we needed to capitalize on.”

Defenseman Jake Walman scored his first NHL goal in the third period to help St. Louis snap a seven-game winless streak (0-6-1).

Vladimir Tarasenko beat Fleury to the glove side on the first shot of the game 48 seconds in. St. Louis went ahead 2-0 at 7:21 when Sammy Blais wired a wrist shot from the high slot past Fleury’s glove for his fourth goal.

“I think we cheated the game a little bit early,” Stone said. “We were still looking for easy offense. They blew the zone. Give them a little bit of credit, too. They played hard for the first 20 minutes and pushed us on our heels.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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